Water supplier fined after cryptosporidiosis outbreak

April 2, 2015

U.K. water company Sembcorp Bournemouth Water has been fined just over £130,000 ($193,000) after an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium was linked to the water supply.

U.K. water company Sembcorp Bournemouth Water has been fined just over £130,000 ($193,000) after an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium was linked to the water supply.

In court last week, the company pleaded guilty to four counts of supplying water unfit for human consumption and one count of failing to adequately operate a treatment process.

An investigation by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) found that shortly before the outbreak in the spring of 2013, a combination of poorer quality water coming into the company's Alderney water treatment works and changes made to its treatment process led to the parasite entering drinking water supplies in Bournemouth.

The Inspectorate identified failings in the operation and maintenance of the works, including its practice of using filters too soon after cleaning. A sewage spill upstream from the water intake point also had an impact on the quality of the water, the court heard.

The DWI told Sembcorp to take steps to prevent a recurrence, and the company has installed an additional UV process as part of a disinfection improvement project costing £7 million ($10 million).

Commenting on the case, Professor Jeni Colbourne, Chief Inspector of Drinking Water, said: "This was a serious failure by the company which has been duly recognised by the court. Consumers can be reassured that the Inspectorate has required the company to make changes to ensure this will not happen again."

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